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Spring Back Recycling, SIFE Students Celebrate Milestone

Students and employees celebrate Spring Back’s first year of business.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall joined students and faculty from Belmont University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team and staff from Belmont Church Wednesday to celebrate the latest milestone of one-year-old business, Spring Back Recycling, which recently surpassed 5,000 recycled mattresses.

A partnership between the church’s Isaiah 58 ministry and Belmont University, Spring Back began with a business concept and plan developed by the SIFE students, who are seeking to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. In addition to helping the environment, Spring Back employs workers from Isaiah 58 who were formerly homeless or incarcerated, giving them an opportunity for a new life.

Dr. John Gonas, associate professor of finance and SIFE advisor at Belmont, said, “I’ve been working in the business model development with a social justice bent for about seven years now. I’ve noticed that it’s incredibly difficult to match the expectations and needs of a community partner with the skill sets and time constraints of college students and faculty. But this business model can lead to sustainable social change and profitability.”

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean joined the celebration of Spring Back’s first year and praised the business for being both innovative and impactful. “Social innovation begins by identifying a problem.  This, of course, is the easy part.  The hard part, however, is finding and effectively executing a solution to this problem. This is exactly what Spring Back has done… May its success be the ‘springboard’ of new ideas and innovations that will continue to make Nashville, and in fact the world, a better place for all.”

The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Services Division provides inmate work crews to do some of the delivery of donated mattresses as well as weekly debris pick-up and haul away for Spring Back. In addition, the business has hired a few low risk inmates through the work release program.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall admits he’s a fan of the Spring Back model and how it impacts the community. “I absolutely love this program and thought it was a fantastic idea from the first time I heard about it. There aren’t many programs we can participate in that gets us cleaning up the community, works towards a greener environment by recycling materials that otherwise would be discarded, and hires inmate workers to help them develop a skill.  It really is a win-win for everyone.”

Bryan King, an Isaiah 58 member and the manager at Spring Back, noted about himself and the men he works with at the warehouse, “We’ve come from the bottom and are trying to get back up. Spring Back is good for the environment, and it’s good for everyone.”

Another Spring Back employee Ron Harness, who is now attending college, added, “The students are an amazing help. These young people come in and look at you as someone with possibility, not as someone who just got out of jail. They are a big part of my recovery.”